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Enrollment has soared citywide since Malden Public Schools opened in September

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Total student population rises by 543, surges to 6,313

  Any lingering concerns about a drop in student enrollment seem to have vanished locally, just eight weeks into the new school year. Malden first-year Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ligia Noriega-Murphy reported Monday night that the student population of the Malden Public Schools (MPS) has soared since the doors opened on September 1. A total of 543 new students have been added to the rolls since school began, with the total enrollment districtwide now at 6,313, according to the School Committee’s Space and Enrollment Subcommittee Chair, Ward 4 School Committee Member Leonard Iovino, as he delivered his regular report at Monday night’s November School Committee meeting.

  The meeting was held both in person and online via Zoom, the Committee’s third hybrid meeting of this nature this school year, after over a year of Zoom-only meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The new students added include many who were transferring into the MPS and some students starting school after the new year began. Though the total enrollment at the start of the school year was several hundred below last year’s figure in late August, the new figure represents a 110-student rise over the 2020 districtwide population.

  According to Supt. Noriega-Murphy, the three largest grade level increases are in the kindergarten (+169), High School, Grades 9-12 (+89) and Pre-K (+82), with those three levels alone accounting for a full 68% of the increase. The Malden High School number is a bit deceiving as nearly 200 new students have enrolled in MHS since September 1, but about 100 have transferred out as well since mid-August. Across the district is the same story, as it is believed that over 700 new students are now enrolled in the Malden Public School, just since mid-August. Overall, the 543 student number rise is a nearly 10% increase – in just eight weeks.

  When there was a major surge of transfer students to be processed in the two weeks preceding the opening of school and most of the month of September, the previously named Malden Parent Information Center (PIC) was besieged by the numbers. Supt. Noriega-Murphy and her staff, particularly Assistant Superintendents Laryssa Doherty and Toni Mertz, addressed this wave of new students waiting to be processed by revamping the PIC in rapid fashion. The PIC was renamed Malden Public Schools “Welcome Center.” Additional full-time and part-time staff members were hired and immediately put to work, particularly in language translation with regard to the processing. The changes resulted in a quicker and more efficient service, and the turnaround time from when caregivers applied for entry into MPS and the actual first day of school for the new students decreased dramatically.

  Supt. Noriega-Murphy commended all who have played a role in assimilating this surge of “newcomers,” as the MPS now refers to the new students. She noted the challenges faced and the work performed by administrators and educators in the school buildings as well as that of those in the Welcome Center in getting these newcomers off to a positive start in MPS.

  Others who addressed the School Committee later in the meeting on the subject included Ward 5 School Committee Member Adam Weldai and Jennifer McCabe, Director of English Language Education, who noted that 124 new English Language Learner (ELL) students have enrolled in the MPS – just since September 1. All told, there are now 1,186 ELL students in MPS, with the three largest clusters at Salemwood K-8 (355), Ferryway K-8 (226) and Malden High School (156).

  Ward 5’s Weldai said, “To put 50-100 new students into a school building in a span of just weeks is a major change. It’s yeoman’s work for everyone in that school – principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors, educators and other staff.

  “We hear a lot about the challenges, but we don’t hear about all the challenges,” Weldai said. “Our staff who helps all of these newcomers get off to a great start deserve all our praise and credit for what they do.”

STUDENT ENROLLMENT RISES: Malden Public Schools’ student enrollment has surged past 6,300, a rise of nearly 550 students in just eight weeks; it was reported at Monday night’s Malden School Committee meeting.
Dr. Ligia Noriega-Murphy
Superintendent of Schools

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